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Questions to Ask a Probate Lawyer Before Hiring

by | Jan 27, 2020 | Family Law, Firm News, Zentz & Roberts, P.C

Probate is the first step taken in administering the estate of a deceased person and distributing assets to the beneficiaries. When it comes to navigating through the probate process, you want legal advice from an experienced  estate planning lawyer who’s familiar with both state law and how the local probate court works. Indiana probate law firm, Zentz & Roberts, P.C is skilled at helping our clients navigate the probate process.


Upon your death, a probate court declares the validity of your will and then the court authorizes the estate executor to distribute the estate to your beneficiaries as you instructed, as well as pay any taxes your estate may owe. A probate attorney is needed when there’s only one name on an account or an asset, such as real estate.
Though probate is a process that is routine and orderly, the probate of an estate is often seen as:

  • Public
  • Slow
  • Expensive

There are several ways that probate can be avoided. The best way to craft an effective estate plan that minimizes the probate process is to contact a top estate planning attorney.

What is a Probate Lawyer?

A probate lawyer, is also known as an estate lawyer or probate attorney. A probate lawyer is often responsible for walking a personal representative through the entire probate process from start to finish. A probate lawyer can help a person with asset protection and preparing and filing of all documents required by a probate court.

Estate Planning

What Does a Probate Lawyer Do?

As your probate lawyer our job is to advise the executors of an estate, and the estate beneficiaries on how to settle the final affairs of the deceased person. An estate lawyer does this by aiding with the following:

  • Assisting with the Sale of Estate Property
  • Obtaining Appraisals of Property
  • Distributing Assets to Beneficiaries
  • Determining and Paying Taxes Owed
  • Assisting with the Sale of Estate Property

A probate lawyer will advise on the payment of the decedent’s final bills and all of their outstanding debts. The estate planning attorney will prepare and file all related documents required by the court.

Determining and Paying Taxes Owed

If there are any estate taxes or inheritance taxes that are owned by the estate of the decedent at the time of death will be due at both state and federal levels. The probate attorney will help to determine where the cash will come from the estate to pay the taxes due.

Obtaining Appraisal of Property

The probate lawyer helps to determine the values for all the property in an estate or trust. This valuation must be completed even if a single person inherits everything. If the assets shortly after the death, the sale value is the actual date of death value.

Distributing Assets to Beneficiaries

As the probate attorney, we will be able to sell any of the securities, stocks, bonds to raise any cash necessary settle and manage the estate while completing the probate process. At the time when probate settles and liquid assets are distributed, the estate lawyer generally finds out from the estate beneficiaries would like to receive their share of the estate.

How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost/ What Is the Average Fee for a Probate Lawyer?
Probate lawyers are paid in a few different payment arrangements to complete work require during the probate process. Probate lawyers are paid via:

  • By the hour – $250-$500 an hour
  • Flat fee- Generally $1500-$2500 per case
  • Percentage of the value of the assets – Generally at 33%

How the estate lawyer is paid, is determined based on the payment arrangement that you negotiate with your lawyer at the time you sign the fee arrangement and letter of engagement with the attorney.

No matter if you are a beneficiary, family member, personal representative or executor of an estate, it’s important for you to have an understanding of the fees you will be paying your probate lawyer.

Will Planning

How to Prepare for a Probate Lawyer Meeting?

Meeting with a probate lawyer is something that is done at the time of a death. When you go to meet with a probate lawyer, you may be wondering what to bring to a probate lawyer.
When you go to meet with a probate lawyer make sure to bring the following:

  • Death certificate
  • Copies of any documents from the probate court
  • Copies of deeds to any property owned by the deceased.
  • Copies of any living trust documents, if there was a living trust
  • Copies of recent financial statements for the deceased
  • Including bank accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Names and addresses of individuals who may be covered in the will

Plan Ahead with a Probate Lawyer

With less pre-planning for the navigation of the probate process, the costs of the probate process and the more than likely involvement of lawyers who collect fees from the estate of the deceased cause the costs of the probate process to increase. Armed with this knowledge, many opt to minimize costs associated with the probate process by hiring an estate planning attorney ahead of time to plan out potential estate issues that can arise. Call estate planning law firm Zentz & Roberts, P.C at 317-220-6056 to map out your probate process for your loved ones today.

***Please note: This page is not intended to give specific legal advice but is meant for information purposes only. Contact us to discuss your case***